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I went to see the film adaptation of The Host, by Stephanie Meyer, at the weekend.

All in all, it was a remarkably accurate adaptation, considering what the film industry normally do to books.  I did spot a few places where the action was subtly different to the way it was described in the book, but the main plot items were all there, and all in the right order.  There were no characters missing, or extra characters, as sometimes happens.

For those who don’t know, the Earth has been invaded by body-snatching alien “Souls”, who have turned it into a paradise with no war, hunger, disease, or rude people.  The down side, of course, is that you lose control of your body, causing most people to just give up and fade away.  Melanie, one of a small group of human survivors, is captured and infested, but she resists, causing her alien companion no end of problems.  And, incidentally, being involved in a complex love-polygon in which the Soul and the Host are in love with different people.

It must be tricky to make a film adaptation of something where a large portion of the action occurs inside someone’s head, but they did very well.  The person in control of Melanie’s body always speaks out loud, with the passenger doing voice over, so you can tell who is speaking.  Their arguments are some of the best things about the film.

The characterisation worked well in both book and film, although in the film the relationship between some of the humans was not as clear as it could have been, and you don’t get to know some of the supporting characters as well.  There’s only so much you can do within a sensible film time-limit, I suppose.

I enjoyed the book more than the film; whether this is because of how the action translated to the screen or because I already knew what was going to happen when I watched the film I don’t know.  However, while I would happily read the book again (in a few years time), I’m not sure that I would bother watching the film again.

 
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Researchers at the University of California have been working with a woman who was born with only three fingers on one hand.  At age 18, the hand was amputated following an accident, and she developed a phantom limb.  Most people have heard of phantom limbs, where amputated limbs can still be felt by their owners.

This woman’s phantom hand had all five fingers.

The researchers say this is a sign that the brain knows what the body should look like, even when it doesn’t actually look that way.

There’s a message here for anyone writing about shape-shifters.  From werewolves to alien possession, the brain would rebel against the new shape, and that should be either mentioned and explained as part of the story, or explained away with “magic”.

I’ve seen this done, actually – I read Stephanie Meyer’s “The Host” not so long ago, and when the alien bug takes over her new human host, there is a certain amount of disorientation which actually contributes to the plot.  It’s very well done.

The Author

Nicola Higgins is a 30-something martial artist who runs two Brownie packs and works full time. She somehow still finds time to write.

Her favourite genres are near-future and alternate world science fiction and fantasy.

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